Ethernet on Surface RT with Windows RT 8.1 (Updated)

Microsoft has finally given us USB Ethernet support for RT with 8.1.  Well sort of.  According to the support website you will see that the Surface Ethernet adapter works with RT 8.1 (*so do most 3rd party adapters).  (Update: Microsoft has removed Surface RT and Surface 2 from the page, don’t despair, it DOES work, read on) However, if you were to update your device, purchase the Surface Ethernet adapter, plug it in, you will get the infamous message “Not Compatible with this version of Windows.”  Even running Windows Update does not fix this issue, at least not at the moment.  I did some digging and found that the Surface Ethernet adapter uses the Realtek chipset and I noticed that in the Devices section under network adapters Windows RT now has a Realtek USB FE Family Controller driver.

So to make this work;

  1. Plug in your Surface Ethernet Adapter, wait for the installation to fail.
  2. Then open Device Manager, under Network Adapters right click on the Ethernet Adapter, it should have a yellow exclamation mark.
  3. Choose update driver, then select Browse my computer for driver software.  Then click “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”.
  4. If it doesn’t take you directly to Network Adapters, choose it from the list.  In the left pane your should see Realtek, highlight it and you should only have one option in the right pane for the Realtek USB FE Family Controller.  Select and next.
  5. If it warns you about compatibility just accept it.

The driver will install and you will have 10/100Mbps Ethernet on your Surface.  Only 1 year late, but who really noticed?

I can only presume that Microsoft will eventually fix this and make the process more automatic…but then again.

*Note:  This works with ASIX 88772C USB 2.0 adapters which is virtually most Ethernet Adapters on the market.  If you have a different adapter just remember to select the ASIX driver instead of the Realtek one.

MS Adapter Generic Adapter


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81 Responses to Ethernet on Surface RT with Windows RT 8.1 (Updated)

  1. Booby says:

    Awesome thanks!

  2. Steve says:

    Just tried this (again) with my ASIX based USB adapter. Still no joy here. As an FYI, I did try this in a Fry’s on a Surface 2 with the MS adapter and could not get this to work either. Not sure how this is supposed to work but it’s not working for me.

    • I’ve added some images to show the exact Driver name and location. Realtek for MS Surface adapter, ASIX for generic adapter.

      • Steve says:

        My adapter is a Startech 2106s which uses an ASIX/MosChip – MCS7830 chip in it. I’m not sure if this is fully compatible with this procedure. After the driver loads Windows RT can’t start the device. I’ll try the MS USB agan and make sure the RealTek is selected.

      • kirstin says:

        I have installed my adapter no problem, its a utech smart make but definitely says its an
        ASIX AX88772A and windows 8 comparable however cannot get the internet.iveplugged the telephone lead into the adaptor and surface 2 but it doesn’t work , I’ve tried turning wireless connection on and off to see if a difference. Is there something else I need to do on the surface to in order to connect ?


      • Does the driver install as per the instructions? ie. no error messages or ! beside the device in Device Manager?

      • kirstin says:

        Hi I only got the !!! when I followed the instructions .”Then open Device Manager, under Network Adapters right click on the Ethernet Adapter, it should have a yellow exclamation mark” then followed all the instructions as you have detailed and it loaded ok…is there a way to tell if it hasn’t loaded ok ?

      • kirstin says:

        Can you tell me how to connect to the internet via phone line, is it just a case of connecting the adapter to surface and plug into phone line? Do I need to change any settings on the surface ? What is a local LAN issue ? Thanks

  3. Unfortunately, the drivers don’t seem to be there on a clean Windows 8.1 re-install on a Surface RT. Confusing.

  4. Michael Stewart says:

    Worked great, was on phone with MS, and no luck, this worked like a charm.

  5. Weiwei Dang says:

    This worked for my Surface RT and Lenovo USB Ethernet adaptor using the ASIX driver. Thank you.

  6. Richard says:

    I have a USB 10/100 Ethernet adapter from an old HTC Shift x9500. This has Ethernet plus 2 x USB2 connectors, together with a mini-USB socket to which a standard phone charger can be connected.

    With my Surface RT, I followed the instructions above and found that RT instantly recognised the adapter once I selected the ASIX driver detailed above.

    These adapters can often be found cheaply on eBay. Mine has a label “USB 2.0 Hub HE2130″.

    Thanks for this info!

  7. Raz Black says:

    appreciate the article.. gonna have to give this a go then! thnx!

  8. John says:

    Thanks. Followed your instructions on Windows RT 8.1 with Microsoft’s ‘official’ adapter and it worked like a charm.

  9. Tom Trauner says:

    Hallo, bei den Netzwerkadaptern scheint bei meinen Surface RT nicht ASIX und nicht Realtek auf, sondern nur Microsoft und Marvell….

    Was muss ich tun? Hsbe ein neues Surface RT Ende Oktober gekauft und möchte mit LAN Kabel ins Internet
    Ich habe Windows RT drauf, muss ich da erst updaten auf 8.1, bei mir steht bei PC-INfo – Windows RT copyright 2012, 32Bit-System – wie kann ich ohne Wlan ein Update fahren???

    Habe mir ein USB Hub mit LAN Anschluss gekauft, scheint bei Geräten als AX88179 auf – passt das??

    Danke für eure Infos

    • It is not clear to me what you are asking. If you need WiFi to run windows update I suggest finding a coffee shop or other location that you can get free WiFi and run Windows Update that way. If you are not on 8.1 yet you can download the driver for 8.0 from my previous blog (November 2012) and install the ASIX driver manually. Good Luck!

      • Tom Trauner says:

        Hallo, wie weiß ich ob ich 8.0 oder 8.1 am PC habe – bei mir steht nur Windows RT in Systeminfo.
        Ich möchte einfach mit LAN-Kabel ins Internet. Passt da der USB LAN Hub, der als AX88179 erkannt wird?


  10. JohnO says:

    Works with Belkin USB adapter and Axis driver on 8.1, Thank you!!

  11. Hello I have done all steps than you wrote but it does not work..:( It says: Windows encountered a problem installing the driver software for your device. Windows foud driver software for your device but encountered an error while attempting to instal it. This device cannot start. (Code 10).
    I really do not know what now….

  12. it has no brand, there is just write USB2.0 to ethernet converter….you think that the problem, that the adapter is sh*t???

  13. I am sorry I lost, which chipset? Iam not sure if I know what is chipset. I just folow your steps because I realy need ethernet in RT. And honestly Iam not good in PCs. You mean chipset – use Realtek or ASIX? because I tried it with both and it does not work.

  14. I have a AX88179, it did not work with this drivers. Any idear?

  15. carbon says:

    really appreciate :)
    i saw ur post n bought a Vztec adapter to try it out. It works by using ASIX driver.
    Thanks again, u save my days.

  16. broken heart surfacer says:


  17. tk says:

    Which VZtec adaptor are you using? Does it have USB 3.0 hub too?

  18. BooHee Lee says:

    Thank you very much. ^^

    from South KOREA.

  19. Pingback: [Frage] Surface 2 und Ethernet-Adapter

  20. Harryohare says:

    Thank you very much, I will bookmark your page for future reference. The Best Surface RT infomation I have found

  21. danny says:

    I have a gigaware Ethernet adapter and tried installing like stated above but when I select the asix option it comes up with the error and will not instil it. I have also tried the realtex option and have the same issue. is it safe to assume the gigaware adapter is not computable?

  22. brad says:

    Awesome, worked great

  23. dan dennis says:

    It is working for me too with the Lenovo ethernet adaptor, £15 on Amazon. Thank you so much for posting this

    Best wishes for 2014


  24. Raphaël says:

    Thanks, worked with a Kensington USB mini dock with Ethernet, using the ASIX driver.

  25. Paul says:

    Thank you. Realtek drivers work fine with Microsoft Surface Ethernet adapter on RT running 8.1, but will not install using a Sabrent USB-G1000 adapter.

  26. Ed says:

    The ASIX driver works with the Plugable USB2-E1000 adapter on my Surface RT with the Windows 8.1. Thanks Digitalman!!!!!.

  27. james says:

    Didn’t work, gives me a message…’windows cannot verify digital signature for the drivers required for this device. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source. (Code 52)

  28. AD says:

    Boom – instructions with the ASIX driver worked with Trendnet TU2-ET100 V4 driver. Awesome; I thought I would have had to give up having an ethernet connection on my RT. THANKS!

  29. Tom says:

    I did the ASIX variation and it worked like a charm. Many thanks.

  30. Bill W says:

    Once I removed the old Windows 8 ASIX driver, I was able to use the provided ASIX driver with my inexpensive MonoPrice adaptor with no problem. Thanks a bunch!!!!

  31. Adding to the list of working adapters: i-tec USB 2.0 Ethernet adapter, using ASIX AX88772C USB 2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter driver. Just make sure to set this driver manually, because the default installation wil either fail or choose the wrong driver.

  32. Z. A. says:

    I’m using a Surface RT with 8.1 installed and getting the message “Windows found driver software for your device but encountered an error while attempting to install it”. I bought mine on ebay, so it might be a dodgy manufacturer – its a USB Ethernet adaptor with a three port USB hub, the box says compatible with USB 2.0 and the CD that came with it says on it “AX88772ALF” and “AX88772BLF”. Is it incompatible?
    also a funny thing, if I pull out the device at the step four, it says that it successfully installed, but obviously doesn’t work…

  33. Dimitri says:

    Works with the iLuv ICB708WHT adapter. You made my day! =D

  34. Frank says:

    Yes sir it works with axis Drivers on Windows RT 8.1 this is the bomb, I I just saved $600 with $18 on an adapter. Now the RT has earned it.

  35. Richard says:

    Easy, easy, easy! Just follow the steps and it works fine. Just installed it on my Surface 2 without any problem and in just minutes (or less).

  36. kirstin says:

    Hi Ive just checked again in device manager, under network adapters I have ASIX AX88772C fast Ethernet adapter with no !!! . When I click on it and the properties comes up it says this device is working properly. So is there something else that needs to be done ? Am I right in plugging the telephone lead straight into the Surface 2….do I need to click on anything else ?

  37. Frotzie says:

    I have a Surface RT running 8.1, and can confirm the ‘Plugable USB2-E100′ USB/Fast Ethernet adapter which uses an AX88772A chip works fine with the drivers for AX88772C. I bought this adapter for $10 US yesterday on Amazon. Thanks for the tip!

  38. Tom Snelson says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m using a brand new out of the box Surface RT 8.1 and needed the USB Ethernet Adaptor. Called Microsoft and was informed nothing would be compatible for the RT 8.1
    Purchased the Belkin USB 2.0 Ethernet Adapter and followed your instructions. Bingo I’m in! Worked like a charm…thanks again!

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  40. Mo Zambique says:

    Hi, I just bought the Microsoft Ethernet Adapter for Surface. I followed the instructions on my Surface 2 which is running RT 8.1 fully up-to-date, but upon attempting to install the driver software, it gave me the error “Windows found driver software for your device but encountered an error while attempting to install it.”
    Realtek USB FE Family Controller
    This device cannot start. (Code 10)
    *** What to do now to get it to work for me?

    • It should be working with that driver. Try removing and run through the procedure again. Make sure you are forcing it to use that built-in Realtek driver.

      • Mo Zambique says:

        I removed the adapter, shut down my Surface 2 (regular, not Pro), started my Surface 2 up again and followed the instructions to the letter. I got the exact same results, so no luck. When I am doing this, my WiFi is turned on and the ethernet cable is NOT connected to the adapter.

      • Mo Zambique says:

        Is it possible that there is some sign in that I need to do, other than sign in to my Surface 2?

  41. Psychoroy says:

    I ‘ve got the same problem than you Mo Zambique whit the same material config. Nothing works.
    I’ve tried whit a “Startech USB3.0 Gigabit ethernet adapter” in place of the MS adapter and it doesn’t work more whit both drivers…………

    • I do not believe the USB3.0 devices use the same drivers. However it is concerning some of you are having this issue, hopefully Microsoft has not sent out an update to disable this feature. I re-tested the Microsoft Surface Adaptor with a Surface RT tablet fully updated and can confirm that it is working. I’ll try with a Surface 2 as soon as I get a chance.

      • Mo Zambique says:

        Thanks, anything to help will be greatly appreciated regarding the Microsoft Ethernet Adapter for Surface on my Surface 2!
        Separately, I also tried a Loftek Inet RT2 device, but that device did not even show up in Device Manager, so it was a non-starter.

  42. Psychoroy says:

    I think the same for USB3.0 devices and unfortunately the driver of it is not recognized by the Surface2.

  43. Pooh says:

    AX88772 device driver works perfect on Surface RT 8.1 … just follow the instructions.

  44. David Moore says:

    Is the Surface Pro 3 really water cooled?

  45. Jason says:

    I have a MS Ethernet adapter and i keep getting a code 10 error when i try and install the driver. Does anyone know how to fix this?

  46. Bob says:

    Please help. I tried the drivers mentioned above and it did not work. I own the Microsoft usb to Ethernet adapter which is not for Surface RT. I tried playing around with the other network adapters in the list. It did add the Microsoft network adapter multiplex miniport which installed but does not work. However, I cannot uninstall, remove the device or update the driver again.

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